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- Google Autocomplete: As you type in your search, our autocomplete feature offers search predictions that often match your intended search term making search entry easier and faster.
- Voice Search: With our voice feature, you can avoid typing all together. Simply press the microphone and begin speaking your query.
- My Location: With your permission, Google can use your device location to provide nearby results easily and accurately. For instance, a search for “coffee shops” quickly displays the nearest places you can go to for a cup of coffee.
You can download the app from the Windows Marketplace and try it for yourself. It’s available worldwide in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.
(Cross posted on the Inside Search Blog)
I’ve yet to meet a SketchUp modeler who doesn’t—at least just a little bit—want to work in the video game design industry. I get a stupid grin on my face when I think about how much fun it it would be to make battle tanks and exploding oil drums and secret doors for hidden basements full of zombies. In the gaming world, boring things like gravity and cost take a backseat to novelty and sheer coolness.
But how to turn your SketchUp habit (and job cranking out toilet stall details) into days full of armor design and wandering through bad neighborhoods looking for interesting photo-textures to shoot?
Google SketchUp for Game Design is Robin de Jongh’s newest book; he also wrote SketchUp 7.1 for Architectural Visualization. It presumes that you’re a SketchUp beginner, but then quickly gets on to the good stuff:
- Finding good resources for photo-textures
- Using Meshlab to convert your models in useable 3D game assets
- Working with the Unity 3D game engine (which is widespread, free-or-low-cost middleware for designing game levels)
- Creating high-quality textures for games
- Adapting your models for use in video games
- Authoring custom levels
- Modeling low-poly game assets (including cars) and selling them online
Robin’s writing is accessible and easy to follow. He packs a lot of information into each page, but manages to keep the tone friendly and even funny at times. While the book’s in black and white, color versions of the images are available from the publisher’s website.
In the world of software, the designation “M2” refers to “Maintenance Release #2”. Maintenance releases are mini-versions that come out between major updates. They aren’t really about flashy new features; they’re more like tune-ups for your car; squeaks and rattles get fixes, tires are rotated, fluids are changed. You get the picture.
It’s been a few months since we released M1; since then, we’ve collected a fresh batch of performance tweaks and bug fixes—over 150 of them, in fact. M2 is a free update for all users of SketchUp 8 and SketchUp Pro 8 in all 12 languages. The best way to get it is to open SketchUp and do this:
Windows: Choose Help > Check for Update
Mac: Choose SketchUp > Check Web for Update
Having stated that maintenance releases aren’t always flashy, we couldn’t resist adding a few shiny, new things that we think you’ll appreciate:
Better Ruby Script Installation
We’ve had a way for other folks to build SketchUp plugins and extensions for years. Anyone with coding skills can use the Ruby API (application programming interface) to whip up new tools that they can distribute any way they like. People have created thousands of great scripts—we consider the API one of the most useful things we’ve done.
The tricky part has always been teaching SketchUp modelers how to install and access the Ruby scripts (Rubies) that they want to use. Adding a sophisticated Ruby used to involve finding a specific folder on your system and putting a bunch of files in all the right places. Try explaining how to do that to your boss.
In SketchUp 8 M2, we’ve added two features that should make using Rubies a whole lot easier: The first is a new button on the Extensions panel in SketchUp Preferences. Clicking it lets you install any properly-configured “.RBZ” (ruby zip) file, which puts the needed files into the correct spot, without having to dig around in your computer’s file system. It’s simple, but huge. We’ve also added a lightweight set of “hooks” in the API that should help scripters build their own script-management tools.
All versions of SketchUp 8 can read and write COLLADA, a 3D file format that works with lots of other 3D software. It’s managed by the Khronos Group, an industry consortium that decides which features COLLADA should support. As of M2, SketchUp’s import/export support for COLLADA is now compliant with over 90% of the official Khronos compatibility test suite, only leaving out support for animations and shaders—neither of which can be authored in SketchUp anyway.
We think you’ll like SketchUp 8 M2’s ability to seamlessly import and export clean and compliant COLLADA geometry. One particular thing to note: SketchUp now preserves texture names in exported files. This makes it easier to work with COLLADA files in 3rd party rendering tools.
Advanced Camera Tools included in Pro
Back in March, we announced the Advanced Camera Tools for SketchUp Pro 8. The ACTs let set designers, cinematographers, storyboard artists and other people in the entertainment industry work with simulated real-world cameras in their SketchUp models. Until now, the ACTs were a separate plugin that you had to install. In M2, they’re built right into every copy of SketchUp Pro 8.
More Straightforward Pro Trials
After you download and install SketchUp Pro, you can try all of the Pro features for 8 hours (of use) before deciding to buy a license. Up until now, we’ve simply switched off the Pro stuff if you don’t enter a license after the trial period. Effectively, Pro reverted to being just like regular ol’ SketchUp.
The problem was that lots of people didn’t realize that they weren’t actually running Pro anymore. Even worse, folks who had bought Pro licenses and had forgotten (or otherwise been unable) to activate those licenses were missing out on all the great stuff they’d paid for. Our Pro Support team has been fielding dozens of “Why can’t I import a CAD file?” questions per day. It’s been a bit of a mess.
Starting with SketchUp 8 M2, the SketchUp Pro Trial will no longer revert to “free mode” when the trial period expires. A separate version of SketchUp will still be available to download for free, but SketchUp Pro will require a valid license file to run after your trial period has expired.
Mac OS 10.7 Compatibility
Users of Apple’s latest operating system, take note: SketchUp 8 is fully compatible with your hardware. And I ain’t lion. Rawr.
Since Google added SQL support to App Engine in the form of Google Cloud SQL, the Google Plugin for Eclipse (GPE) team has been working hard on improving the developer experience for developing App Engine apps that can use a Cloud SQL instance as the backing database.
They are pleased to announce the availability of Google Plugin for Eclipse 2.5. GPE 2.5 simplifies app development by eliminating the need for manual tasks like copying Cloud JDBC drivers, setting classpaths, typing in JDBC URLs or filling in JVM arguments for connecting to local/remote database instances.
GPE 2.5 provides support for:
- Configuring Cloud SQL/MySQL instances
- Auto-completion for JDBC URLs
- Creating database connections in Eclipse database development perspective
- OAuth 2.0 for authentication.
Configuring Cloud SQL/MySQL instances
App Engine provides a local development environment in which you can develop and test your application before deploying to App Engine. With GPE 2.5, you now have the ability to configure your local development server to use a local MySQL instance or a Cloud SQL instance for testing. When you choose to deploy your app, it will use the configured Cloud SQL instance for App Engine.
Auto-completion for JDBC URLs
GPE 2.5 supports auto-completion for JDBC URLs, and quick-fix suggestions for incorrect JDBC URLs.
Creating database connections in Eclipse database development perspective
The Eclipse database development perspective can be used to configure database connections, browse the schema and execute SQL statements on your database.
Using GPE 2.5, database connections are automatically configured in the Eclipse database development perspective for the Development SQL instance and the App Engine SQL instance.
You can also choose to manually create a new database connection for a Cloud SQL instance. In GPE 2.5, we have added a new connection profile for Cloud SQL.
GPE 2.5 now uses OAuth 2.0 (earlier versions were using OAuth 1.0) to securely access Google services (including Cloud SQL) from GPE. OAuth 2.0 is the latest version of the OAuth protocol focussing on simplicity of client development.
Google hope GPE 2.5 will make cloud application development using App Engine and Cloud SQL a breeze. We always love to hear your feedback and the GPE group is a great place to share your thoughts.